Friends, welcome back to part three of the Women’s World Book of Baby Trousseaux series. I know it’s a mammoth task getting through this series – there’s a lot to see and read and I know this because it’s been a mammoth task writing, reading, editing, picture taking and picture editing to bring it to you. So with no more dithering let’s get right to it; you know I have a propensity for waffling on and we don’t want to be here all day!
Page 17 – “Appropriate Stitches in Knitting and Crochet.” I must admit…this is not my favourite page. I haven’t knitted in decades and have only more recently learned how to crochet edges. Patterns for a number of garments is provided for the family members who like to knit & crochet for baby…Can we now quickly move on to page 18? I know I’m rushing you friends, but page 18 is a stunner and I know you won’t be disappointed…
Page 18 – “Sit on a Cushion and Sew a Fine Seam: The cushion, of course, isn’t essential. Just follow these clear instructions and you’ll have no trouble.” I can’t quite believe how much technical heirloom sewing instruction is listed on one page! I wish I would of had some of this information when I first started sewing babies and children’s garments when my girls were little. As is often the case with new sewists, I relied on dodgy magazine articles and scant pattern instructions to guide my early sewing experiences. This page discusses flat felled French seams, flat felled seams, catch-stitched seams (know more commonly as herringbone stitch), plackets – the slash and fold variety, facing a ruffle, hand-run tucks, featherstitch and the classic edge stitch; shell stitch.
Let’s look at the ‘hand-run tucks”: “Groups of very small hand-run tucks give fulness to the dress, although they are put in so that the neck edge does not show fulness. Make them in clusters of three, five or seven, as in even numbers look better. The space between tucks is usually the same width as the tuck. With a little practice, tucks can be put in by the eye, but if you use a guide, cut one showing the distance between each tuck and also the width of the next tuck. The guide should be a piece of cardboard several inches long…Tucks are put in with tiny running stitches with very fine thread – No. 100 to 120 thread is used on batiste and lawn. Be sure to crease each tuck in straight. In making a tucked slip, cut your front width off and tuck it before cutting out neck and armholes.”
Getting hold of 100 or 120 weight thread isn’t as easy as dropping into your local habby department; I order mine online from the US. I do all my hand sewing with 120 weight; it’s lovely to work with when creating a garment entirely by hand sewing. You don’t know what you’re missing until you’ve made a garment entirely by hand.
Page 19 – “Everything for Our Baby; embroidery that will give individuality to the layette.” Hooray friends… the word “layette” has finally made an appearance! This page is virtually an advertisement for the magazine; it offers catalogue garments that are pre-stamped to be completed at home. “Stamped Goods: As a service to the readers of the Baby Trousseaux Book, we are able to supply materials for the wardrobes show on pages 5, 10, 11, 14 and 19. The best materials are used and complete directions are given with each article.”
The vintage stamped catalogue baby garments that I have the entire pattern, not just the embroidery, stamped on the fabric. The home sewist would embroider ‘in block’ (prior to cutting out) and then cut the garment out on the pre-stamped garment lines and then construct. I’ve bookmarked this very topic for a near future blog post. I can’t wait to share the pre-stamped garments I have.
Page 20 – “A Rosebud Set in Simple Crochet Stitches with Decorative Trimming of Half-Minute Roses.” Folks…I confess, I don’t really know how to crochet. I have taught myself how to do simple edge trims, but that’s about it. I couldn’t crochet a square to save myself! But if anything were to inspire me to learn more, this would be it!
Page 21 -” When the Wind Doth Blow – we shall doubtless have snow, but these woolen things will keep baby warm.” The reference to even earlier language than what was used in 1926 is just delightful! “When the wind doth blow”…go on…say it again; it rolls right off the tongue like butter! The cold months are not forgotten on this page with written patterns for knitting and crocheting a cap, mittens, a jumper and adding crochet edging to a petticoat and blanket square. A quaint diagram with measurements illustrating how to make the cape is provided. It’s very much in the Enid Gilchrist style of garment making where a diagram is given showing shape and measurements and the sewist is expected to draw up the pattern from those measurements. My high school Home Ec sewing classes didn’t include pattern drafting – it was before my time. My friend Kate remembers learning pattern drafting when she was at school. Both she and I want to find a class; Kate to revisit pattern drafting and me to learn it.
Page 23 – “Etiquette Concerning Babies – Reminders to mother and others of the little acts of thoughtfulness and consideration that should attend the advent of a baby.” Friends, this page intrigues me! The social conventions of 1926 are so very different from today’s age of social media. New mothers today can tweet/instagram/facebook baby’s arrival with both a picture and baby’s details as soon as one feels up to it. In 1926 writing notes and making telephone calls was the accepted norm. And today’s new mother’s can receive their congratulatory messages within mere seconds of their ‘birth announcement’ – whereas back in the day new mothers would have to wait for the postie to deliver ‘written notes of congratulations and for visits from friends.
Friends, I hope you’ve enjoyed our three-part adventure through the 1926 Women’s World magazine (“The magazine of the Middle West, Chicago, Illinois”), The Book of Baby Trousseaux! I sure did. And I’ll leave you with the divine back page illustration.
Have a great day!